The ASEAN Regional Forum, Heads of Defense Universities, Colleges and Institutions Meetings (HDUCIM) is a process enabling regional military leaders to engage in discussion of academic matters associated with the training and professional development of regional militaries. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies has been associated with ARF HNDUCIM since 2008. This year Dean Carleton Cramer of APCSS’ College of Security Studies attended the 17th HDUCIM held Nov. 11-14, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Darussalam.
The 17th HDUCIM was co-hosted by Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Korea. The Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces — Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan Bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin presided over the opening ceremony. The meeting focused not only on academic and intellectual discussion, but also served to further develop the professional relationships and close cordial ties between the ASEAN and ARF members. A total of 25 country delegations attended the meeting, as well as the European Union. Countries in attendance included: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and the United States. The U.S. delegation consisted of Brigadier General Tom Consentino and Dr. Cynthia Watson of the National Defense University (NDU) and Dean Carleton Cramer, APCSS.
The three-day meeting was structured around a series of plenary sessions. During these sessions a total of 17 presentations were made by selected country delegations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition to the formal plenary presentations, a large number of bilateral meetings were conducted to enable HNDUCIM members to discuss specific issues with each other. The Chinese delegation, headed by Major General Tianliang Xiao, People’s Liberation Army (PLA), met with Brigadier General Tom Consentino, U.S. Army, and Dean Cramer.
The 17th HNDUCIM focused on the Contemporary Operating Environment (COE). Specifically, country delegations reviewed: (a) academic research and curricula relating to the COE; (b) physical and other training modules relevant to COE; and (c) tools and collaboration efforts needed in addressing the COE. The 25 countries in attendance were keenly attuned to the changing nature of a dynamic Asia Pacific security environment. It became clear throughout the meeting that the center of gravity has shifted from traditional security challenges to non-traditional security challenges. There was recognition of the intricate relationship between the various actors and security challenges that collectively make up a complex, e.g., “wicked” security environment. The 17th HNDUCIM allowed ASEAN and ARF members to assess the new roles of regional militaries in a rapidly evolving security environment. Country delegations were able to discuss how curricula, teaching and research should be adapted to train regional militaries to perform in this new environment.
Many specific security challenges were highlighted as elements of the “new” contemporary operating environment. Two areas identified for multilateral collaboration included the fight against terrorism and national disasters. The delegation from the Philippines gave a particularly insightful presentation on Humanitarian Assistance – Disaster Relief (HADR) including discussion of Typhoon Haiyan and the unfolding impact on the Philippines. Two other important themes highlighted in a number of presentations were recognition that the cyber domain was growing in importance as a vehicle to facilitate professional development and education, as well as the fact that military universities/colleges train both military and their civilian counterparts to be national leaders. In addition to the formal program, delegates were able to learn more about the history of Brunei and the Royal Brunei military through tours of the historic River Village, the Royal Regalia Museum, and the Royal Brunei military museum.
The 17th HNDUCIM presented unique alumni engagement opportunities. APCSS graduates present at this conference event included: Major General Yadmaa Choijamts, Director, Mongolia Defense University; Major General Mony Var, Vice Rector, Cambodia National Defense University; Major General Surasit Thanadtang, Deputy Superintendent, Thailand National Defense Studies Institute; Brigadier General (Ret) Fermin R. De Leon, President Philippines National Defense College; Mr. Guilherme da Costa de Jesus Soares, Advisor to Director of the Timor-Leste National Defense Institute and Mr. Jolkipli bin Hidop, Senior Academic Advisor, Brunei Defense Academy.
The 17th HNDUCIM reminds us that the Asia Pacific security environment is complex. It requires new roles for our militaries and new ways of training our militaries. In this regard, APCSS is recognized as a leading educational institution with its emphasis on assessment; critical thinking; perspective and framing, applied learning through case studies, exercises and the fellows project concept. As reflected by their presence and participation at the 17th HNDUCIM, APCSS graduates continue to distinguish themselves as they advance regional peace and security through both individual and collective action.